Our article last week, stressed that in these recent turbulent times, all eyes are on the upcoming elections and the political chaos gripping the country. Everywhere we look, we find dissatisfaction and negativity, be it to do with the socio-economic plight or the wave of suicide bombings plunging the normal life of many a city into darkness and despair. We believe that keeping this in mind, the need of the hour is to inject a vein of positive hope – of a look to the future with promise, one that we must not allow to be tainted with the blood of so many futile deaths – but rather to use as a means to learn from, that the only way to achieve one’s goals of a sound nation is to rise above the chaos and attempt to guide the youth â€“ the future leaders of tomorrow.
To that end and in continuation of last week, we wish to honour the most powerful of tools and aides we have at our disposal – Education. The Quaid, father of the nation, rightly laid stress on acquiring an education, and himself is an exemplary model of learning and the heights its can lead one to. The need for literacy is the only solution for the progress of any nation. And for this purpose comes in the role of quality educational institutes which nurture and harness the youth of today. Today we talk to Abbas Zaidi, one of Pakistan’s most dynamic students’ about education, society, his school and where Pakistan is headed.
Tell us about your educational background and your plans for higher education
I am currently an A-level student at Froebelâ€™s International School, where I have studied since Preschool. My subjects are economics, mathematics and chemistry. As far as my higher education is concerned, I intend to go abroad for a Bachelors degree majoring in Economics, with minors in Journalism and Mathematics. After that I would like to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Career wise, I intend to be as Investment Banker.
Your current activitiesâ€¦
Currently I am the president of the Froebel’s Debating Society, under the aegis of which we train future debaters in the art of public speaking and diplomacy required in their future careers and for those aspiring to attend LUMUN; the model united nations at LUMS. My own experience of having represented Froebel’s at LUMUN last year was both exciting and enlightening. I receiving the award for ‘best delegate for outstanding diplomacy skillsâ€™ and I enjoy sharing these skills with aspiring debaters at Froebelâ€™s.
While I concentrate on debates, it is necessary to ensure my A level academic record is no less than straight Aâ€™s, as I have to live up to my 6 A’s O-level reputation! Also, having applied to some of the top colleges and universities in the US, grades are of utmost importance. In fact, my siblings, who are Froebel’s alumni, went on to study at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, so the desire to perform well is very much present.
And of course there is my love for tennis, a game which I regularly enjoy in my free time. Music is also a passion and I play the mandolin which is quite a unique musical instrument!
You went to India in 2006; How does it feel to be representing your country on an international platform?
It was absolutely exhilarating! It is an honour to have represented Pakistan in India as part of a delegation for the “Fusion Festival” in 2006, in which over 26 countries participated – Froebelâ€™s was the only school from Pakistan. For me my vision is to contribute in some way to make Pakistan a country that we can all be proud of. Receiving the award for ‘Best Speaker’ at the festival from over 100 speakers was a moment of great pride for me as it helped partly fulfill that dream.
In your opinion what are the most crucial issues faced by the Pakistani youth today?
If you take a look at Pakistanâ€™s literacy rate of 33%, which too is the case only because it takes into account those that can sign their names or make a thumb imprint, it is below the acceptable level. The standard of education itself is in sharp contrast, with some very educated facets of the population and others that are completely illiterate. Our Public Schools need to be improved in terms of teaching and curriculum. I feel one of the most crucial issues is of the lack of access to quality education.
What are your aims and ambitions in life?
Each of us has certain goals in life, and to achieve these there need to be concrete steps taken. I have a dream; I would like to contribute in some way to make Pakistan a country that we can all be proud of. On a personal level I believe education empowers all, and so too shall it allow me the knowledge and expertise to make a difference. My aim is to go abroad for higher studies and to bring back to my country the skills that I acquire.
My vision is to see more equality in Pakistan. I feel disheartened by the amount of differences that we witness based on oneâ€™s social standing and/or ethnicity and I am lucky that Froebelâ€™s encourages people from all walks of life. We all belong to the same country, but there is less national unity and more of an ethnic identity. This is a grave issue that needs to be resolved in order to bring about solidarity. Education could greatly help in this regard as I believe it can bridge the divide between ethnicities and lessen the harsh reality of social differences between the elite class and those from the lower classes that donâ€™t have access to quality education. In my own way I have tried to bridge the differences between the have and have-nots by working actively for social causes, due in part to Frobelâ€™s focus on inculcating social responsibility, such as the time when the entire school was closed down for a month so that students could focus time and effort raising and physically providing aid to the victims of the October 2005 earthquake. Im my personal capacity, I also helped raised funds for hospital beds for earthquake victims with Pakistan’s first female cartoonist Nigar Nazar.
Do you have any advice for the youth of today?
Perseverance, hard work, consistency and purpose in life are the only way to succeed.